The back-​​to-​​school season is easy to rec­og­nize. Tem­per­a­tures get a bit cooler. Wal­greens and CVS start doing a brisk busi­ness in pencil and note­book sales. And in col­lege towns like Boston, as I can per­son­ally attest, com­mute times sud­denly double.

Another familiar fea­ture of the season, of course, is news columns on edu­ca­tion trends — those lists of the 10 or 12 or 15 things to watch, whether they be emerging tech­nolo­gies, or new reg­u­la­tions, or looming anx­i­eties about increased com­pe­ti­tion, finan­cial chal­lenges, the future of tenure, and so on.

What’s striking about so many of the observ­able trends in higher edu­ca­tion today is the way in which they seem to be fueled by the same moti­vating force: the desire for jobs. The pur­suit of jobs or job readi­ness or real-​​world work expe­ri­ence seems to be the trend of trends.

For some within the higher edu­ca­tion com­mu­nity, this focus on jobs will undoubt­edly be viewed as reduc­tivist, rel­e­gating higher edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions to the same status as fac­to­ries churning out “product” – skilled labor, in this case.


Read the article at Inside Higher Ed →